India gifts Dungannon a statue of a local missionary nun who influenced Ghandi

Margaret Noble statue that is on its way to Dungannon
Margaret Noble statue that is on its way to Dungannon

A gift of friendship from the people of India to Dungannon, commemorating one of the town’s most famous women, is to be unveiled by top officials.

The terracotta statue, honouring local woman Margaret Noble, who has been credited with helping to shape the modern Indian nation, has been crafted by a renowned Indian sculptor from rare clay.

She played a pivotal role in developing India’s culture and educational system, and Dungannon should be proud of her achievements

At the moment, it is under wraps at the Indian High Commission in London, but is set to be transported to the town amid much fanfare.

A pioneering humanitarian, Noble was born in the town in 1867 and became Sister Nivedita, one of the most revered women in Indian history.

Numerous educational establishments, including six universities, have been named after her in Calcutta.

Fine art sculptor Marty Cullen, who is forging cultural links with Calcutta, said the statue was a great honour for the people of Dungannon.

“Margaret Noble was one of our forgotten heroines, but in India she is revered at the highest level, and was credited as influencing Ghandi.

“She played a pivotal role in developing India’s culture and educational system, and Dungannon should be proud of her achievements.”

The legacy of the missionary teacher was rescued from obscurity by Jean McGuinness, retired lecturer from Queen’s University Belfast, who wrote a dissertation on Sister Nivedita’s life in the Irish Language.

Since the 100th anniversary celebration of Margaret’s death in 2011, Dungannon has become an unlikely pilgrimage destination for Hindus, in particular those from India.

Sister Nivedita was a gifted teacher, social worker, author and nun initiated by Swami Vivekananda in 1897 and served in Calcutta and around India.

She took service of mankind as the true service to God and is said to be the first western woman to join an Indian monastic order. She championed causes of female education, woman welfare, India’s independence, and revolutionized the Indian Art movement. She authored various books, including “Religion and Dharma”. India issued a stamp in 1967 in her honour. Author Indra Gupta included her in “India’s 50 Most Illustrious Women”.